Tyler Waddell, 35, is cycling from Victoria, B.C. to Whitehorse, Yukon as part of his own spiritual journey following treatment for an alcohol addiction. As well, he hopes to raise awareness about mental health issues and money for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Waddell said he hit rock bottom in Williams Lake and got the help he needed. Angie Mindus photo

‘Williams Lake saved my life’ says cyclist who revisits town where he hit rock bottom

Tyler Waddell travels 2,600 from B.C. to Yukon to awareness about mental health issues

Tyler Waddell admits a tear welled up in his eye when he pedalled into Williams Lake Sunday night.

The lakecity is just one stop — but a special one — on his long cycling and spiritual journey from Victoria, B.C. to Whitehorse, Yukon that he has embarked on this summer to raise awareness about addictions and mental health issues.

“Williams Lake was the place I got the help I needed to change my life,” Waddell said Monday. “It was pretty much my rock bottom place.”

Waddell, 35, found himself in Williams Lake eight months ago, jobless, feeling hopeless and letting his addiction to alcohol spiral out of control.

“I felt like I had nothing left,” Waddell said of the time, which forced him to seek shelter at the Cariboo Friendship Centre.

Waddell said the Cariboo Friendship Centre offered him supports and connected him with the Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilctoin Branch who helped him find affordable housing, while Interior Health sent him to a 90-day treatment centre in Surrey to help him fight his addiction to alcohol and get the couselling and treatment he needed.

Read More: Williams Lake homeless shelter remains open day and night due to extreme cold

“Alcohol was my trouble. But it turns out it was a whole host of other mental health issues that had me self medicating.”

Waddell said through counselling he realized he put up his first emotional wall at the young age of 10 when his parents divorced. A series of other challenges, such as losing loved ones and having survivor’s guilt himself, all led to Waddell’s struggles until he finally dealt with all those feelings at the treatment centre.

Waddell decided Victoria, therefore, was a fitting place to kick off his healing journey, which he did July 3.

Though he has never cycled much, Waddell wants to use his ride to raise awareness surrounding mental health issues and addictions on his 2,600 kilometre journey. Already he has found that people are opening up to him about their own challenges, such as a mother worried about her son’s addictions and another man who shared his struggle with depression.

Read More:‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

“It’s really about the experiences and helping people along the way,” he said. “My eyes have been opened. There’s so much more to life than the past, or even the future. Just being present again in life, that is so beautiful.”

Tyler pulls a small trailer that carries everything he needs: sleeping bag hammock, food, water, bug spray. It has handwritten messages on the side and a growing list of communities he has gone through.

So far, Waddell said the trip has gotten him in great shape, he’s feeling better than ever and also loving setting out on the quiet open road just before sunrise and just before sunset, usually taking his breaks in his 75-kilometre day between 2 and 6 p.m.

Waddell encourages anyone who is struggling to reach out for support from friends, family or any of the many programs he found were so good in Williams Lake.

“I think Williams Lake is lucky to have the CMHA, drop-in programs and the Cariboo Friendship Centre. There are just so many good things.”

With his eyes opened, and feeling like he has a new lease on life, Waddell said he plans to end his journey in Whitehorse where he will start a new life and go back to school to be a holistic counsellor.

His advice to those struggling is to talk about their troubles.

If anyone would like to reach out to Tyler he can be reached on Facebook. Also, he will be leaving Williams Lake heading north toward Quesnel sometime around sunrise Tuesday, July 16.

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Final North Cariboo housing report highlights need for more rental supply, housing affordability

City staff will create and work through a checklist and work plan to address housing needs

Proposed solar feasibility study focus of upcoming open house in McLeese Lake

An application for the study is presently under review by FLNRORD

City of Quesnel looking into constructing new gymnastics facility at Arts and Rec Centre

Nearly $85,000 has been set aside in a Gymnastics Capital Reserve Fund since 2008

Two Quesnel men arrested after fleeing police

Local RCMP searched and found the men after they abandoned a stolen vehicle Dec. 3

Quesnel artist’s paintings evoke memories and inspire donations

Lee-Anne Chisholm’s artwork will be auctioned twice to raise money for local Legion

VIDEO: Rockslide closes Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Thieving gun-toting Santa breaks into Princeton restaurant, makes icing sugar sandwich

The suspect allegedly made a sandwich of icing sugar and ham

Infants should be tested for autism if older siblings are diagnosed, Canadian study suggests

Blood test for infants with sibling who’s been diagnosed would get information to families earlier

Province gives $4.93M boost to school-based gang prevention program

The funding will see the ‘Erase’ program expand from 12 to 16 communities

Half of shoppers say they have no holiday spending budget

B.C. consumers surveyed estimate they will spend $921 this season

Man killed in crash due to ‘absolutely treacherous’ conditions on Coquihalla

Winter means icy roads are dangerous and drivers should be careful, RCMP say

Bag of cocaine left in B.C. grocery store aisle

RCMP: ‘We sure would like to talk to’ person who left drugs behind

Former Burns Lake mayor gets two years for sexual assaults against minors

The Crown is seeking four to six years federal time; the defence wants 18 months in provincial jail

RCMP officer was justified using hose in rooftop standoff: B.C. watchdog

Police watchdog finds officers actions reasonable when man injured in 2018 incident

Most Read